Sicilian Christmas Pasta: Sciabbo

December 22, 2012

I posted this recipe last year: Sicilian Christmas noodles, otherwise known as sciabbo.

It’s a wonderfully easy dish from Pomp and Sustenance by Mary Taylor Simeti. Mary is an authority on Sicilian cuisine and its history, and I’m thrilled she allowed me to share it with you.

Take a look at some of the ingredients:

Some of the ingredients for sciabbo, Sicilian Christmas noodles, copyright Jann Huizenga

Mmmm! Cocoa and cinnamon and red wine and onion go into sciabbo.

The complete list of ingredients:

1 medium onion

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 pound pork meat, diced small (I used ground pork)

2 T tomato extract (or 3 T tomato paste)

1/2 cup red wine

2 cups plain tomato sauce (I used a good store-bought sauce)

2 cups water


1/2 t ground cinnamon

1 T sugar

1 T unsweetened cocoa

1.5 pounds lasagna ricce (I used pappardelle)


Sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the tomato extract and the wine, stirring to dissolve the extract completely.

Cooking Sciabbo, Sicilian Christmas Noodles, copyright Jann Huizenga

Add the tomato sauce and the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick.

Sciabbo, Sicilian Christmas Noodles, copyright Jann Huizenga

Correct the salt (if the extract is salty, it may not be necessary to add more). Stir in the cinnamon, sugar, and cocoa.

Cook the pasta in abundant salted water until it is al dente, drain well, and toss with the sauce. You may wish to serve grated cheese on the side, although I think sciabbo is better without it.

Sciabbo, Christmas Noodles, copyright Jann Huizenga

Merry Christmas! Sending warm, fuzzy thoughts your way.


Some Sicilian-Americans still cook seven fishes for Christmas Eve, but Mary Taylor Simeti emailed me that this tradition pretty much died out in Sicily itself after World War II. She has written other wonderful books too, including Sicilian Food: Recipes from an Abundant Isle and a memoir, On Persephone’s Island.


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The Virgin Sallies Forth

December 8, 2011

Christmas season starts here with a bang! Literally.

Firecrackers boomed loud enough to make your heart disintegrate and drums beat wildly as the Immaculate Virgin Mary sallied forth from churches all over Sicily today (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and took her annual spin around town.

Mary came out after dark in my village, Ragusa Ibla, so I drove to Scicli where she made an appearance earlier in the day while it was still light enough to photograph.

The priest sang Ave Maria into his mike while onlookers made the sign of the cross and wiped tears from their eyes. Notes flew from tubas and trombones.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Scicli, Sicily, December 8, copyright Jann Huizenga

Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Scicli, Sicily, December 8, copyright Jann Huizenga

Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Scicli, Sicily on December 8, copyright Jann Huizenga

If you’re thinking of making a trip to Sicily sometime in the future, consider the Christmas season. The weather’s pretty nice and the traditions are rich. There’s spirituality in the air rather than commercialism. Check out Sicilia&Folklore for some wonderful photos of Sicilian pageants, and for a great list–in Italian–of upcoming celebrations (prossimi eventi on the right-hand side of the blog).


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